The Aksumite Empire

WeisSaul

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
2,836
New Amsterdam
#21
It would have been interesting to see what the Aksumites could have done with more time. Their civilization declined as a result of Islamic expansion, but before that they had a foothold in Yemen and had conquered Meroe.
IIRC it was the arrival or the Portuguese and their gunpowder weapons that saved Aksum from Muslim conquest. The lack of gunpowder weaponry was what ruined them and the Muslims had it.
 
May 2013
1,097
SOMEWHERE
#22
IIRC it was the arrival or the Portuguese and their gunpowder weapons that saved Aksum from Muslim conquest. The lack of gunpowder weaponry was what ruined them and the Muslims had it.
What time period was that? I think you mean Abyssinia.

Of course the civilization of axum did not disappear,but the kingdom had a name change and was known has Abyssinia.

The Ethiopian Empire (Amharic: የኢትዮጵያ ንጉሠ ነገሥት መንግሥተ?, Mängəstä Ityop'p'ya) also known as Abyssinia, covered a geographical area that the present-day northern half of Ethiopia covers. It existed from approximately 1137 (beginning of Zagwe Dynasty) until 1975 when the monarchy was overthrown in a coup d'etat.
 
Last edited:
Dec 2013
17
United States
#24
It would have been interesting to see what the Aksumites could have done with more time. Their civilization declined as a result of Islamic expansion, but before that they had a foothold in Yemen and had conquered Meroe.
Aksum was already in decline in the 6th century. We don't have good primary sources on the cause, but soil deterioration around Aksum combined with the plague of Justinian are thought to have dealt tough blows to the Aksumite kingdom.
 
Jan 2013
1,207
Anywhere
#25
I've always been wondering, has Ethiopia ever been considered part of the orthodox east, I mean i have seen a medieval map of Europe and north Africa, middle-east, and Egypt showing catholic west (medieval Europe) and orthodox east (Eastern Rome, Rus, Serbia, and of course Egypt) but they just excluded the Ethiopians, why is that?
 
Dec 2013
17
United States
#26
I've always been wondering, has Ethiopia ever been considered part of the orthodox east, I mean i have seen a medieval map of Europe and north Africa, middle-east, and Egypt showing catholic west (medieval Europe) and orthodox east (Eastern Rome, Rus, Serbia, and of course Egypt) but they just excluded the Ethiopians, why is that?
I would have to see the source, but most likely ignorance. The history of Ethiopia and Nubia is unfortunately considered an obscure, fringe topic by most of western scholarship (the discipline of history is still very western-centric, though not quite to the extent it was fifty years ago).
 
Jan 2013
1,207
Anywhere
#27
I would have to see the source, but most likely ignorance. The history of Ethiopia and Nubia is unfortunately considered an obscure, fringe topic by most of western scholarship (the discipline of history is still very western-centric, though not quite to the extent it was fifty years ago).
Huh! The same thing happened to Byzantium, where medievalists and western scholars showed prejudice and envy towards the Byzantines, rejecting that they are a superpower in the dark-ages and middle-ages.

Whereas the same goes for Ethiopia, rejecting a that a African nation - though isolated - maintained a functioning monarchy, and withstanding waves of Islamic armies that are trying to conquer it, and not too mentioned that they are built to survive as a whole empire. Ethiopia, just like the Byzantines, showed tolerance and respect to Jews, Arab Christians and Arab Muslims, and nubians in their nation. But even know people are slowly recognizing both Byzantium and Ethiopia.
 
Dec 2013
3
australia
#28
The Jews of Ethiopia are not Jews but Israelites, i.e. pre-450 BC. Their Law of Moses lacks the stipulations of Deuteronomy (compiled around 600 BC under high priest Hilkiah) and they knew nothing of the Second Temple. Their name "Falasha" and their place of worship "Mesged" are both derived from Sabaean (Sheban) words). The best authority on the Ark, the Black Jews, Queen Yodit (the last Hebrew queen) and related subjects is Professor Dr Bernard Leeman, a Ge'ez scholar translating the Kebra Nagast. His books are available as free downloads from Scribd, including "Ark of the Covenant:evidence supporting the Ethiopian traditions", "Queen of Sheba and Biblical Scholarship", and "The Sabaean inscriptions at Adi Kaweh mentioning Hebrew". I believe the Beta Israel( Falasha) respect Leeman (who lives in Ethiopia and was a history professor in Eritrea) as the only foreign authority to take their traditions seriously. His next book is apparently about how the Israelis have systematically destroyed the Falasha's cultural heritage.
 
Dec 2013
3
australia
#29
Aksum was already in decline in the 6th century. We don't have good primary sources on the cause, but soil deterioration around Aksum combined with the plague of Justinian are thought to have dealt tough blows to the Aksumite kingdom.
The reason for the decline of Aksum in the 6th century appears to have been "The plague of Justinian" which may have started in Aksum. It decimated the army and probably (as in Byzantium and Persia) wiped out 30% of the population, while not affecting the Arabs, Berbers and the Ethiopian Agaw (Cushites). The demographic catastrophe had such an impact that a century later, when the Arabs surged out the desert in jihad, the Byzantines and Persians still had not recovered enough to have adequate manpower to oppose them. Aksum was spared, partly because the Negus (king) had given refuge to relatives of the Prophet Muhammed before he had gained power. However the Arabs took control of important Aksumite trade routes from Arabia. This forced the Aksumites to turn inland and also rely increasingly on the Agaw, who appear to have ruled a rival Hebrew kingdom east of Aksum named D'Mt (Damot) with a capital first at Yeha and maybe later at Adi Kaweh. Most historians claim Damot was replaced by Aksum about 150 BC but the Hebrew Queen Yodit (died ca.970 AD at Adi Kaweh) was known as queen of Damot. Her ferocity in destroying the city of Aksum and slaughtering any Christian she could find seems to have been caused by the work of refugee dissident Christian fanatics who won the support of the Aksumite king and then build a series of barriers, including numerous rock churches around Wukro to prevent Yodit trading with the coast (Adulis). The Agaw dynasty called the Zagwe took over Aksumite territory and is credited with the rock churches of Lalibela. Another Christian fanatic succeeded in ousting the Zagwe and restoring the Aksumite monarchy (from Solomon and Sheba) in 1270 and that dynasty ruled Ethiopia (the new Aksum) up until 1974. Agriculture at Aksum has always been good because of its high water table but after the rise of Islam it was no longer a good location for controlling trade.
 
Dec 2013
17
United States
#30
The reason for the decline of Aksum in the 6th century appears to have been "The plague of Justinian" which may have started in Aksum. It decimated the army and probably (as in Byzantium and Persia) wiped out 30% of the population, while not affecting the Arabs, Berbers and the Ethiopian Agaw (Cushites).
What is your source on the 30% number? I'm not necessarily disputing it, but I have yet to come across a scholar willing to attach a definite percentage of change to the demographic history of Aksum, due to the scarcity of the evidence. I have to, however, dispute the idea that the plague did not effect the surrounding peoples with whom Aksum was engaged in substantial trade. Particularly since the plague is known to have travelled down the Nile to Egypt on its way to the Mediterranean, and so certainly passed through Nubia.

This forced the Aksumites to turn inland and also rely increasingly on the Agaw, who appear to have ruled a rival Hebrew kingdom east of Aksum named D'Mt (Damot) with a capital first at Yeha and maybe later at Adi Kaweh. Most historians claim Damot was replaced by Aksum about 150 BC but the Hebrew Queen Yodit (died ca.970 AD at Adi Kaweh) was known as queen of Damot. Her ferocity in destroying the city of Aksum and slaughtering any Christian she could find seems to have been caused by the work of refugee dissident Christian fanatics who won the support of the Aksumite king and then build a series of barriers, including numerous rock churches around Wukro to prevent Yodit trading with the coast (Adulis). The Agaw dynasty called the Zagwe took over Aksumite territory and is credited with the rock churches of Lalibela.
I believe you may have confused a few things with this description. First of all, D'MT is firmly dated to the time period before Aksum and indeed before Christ. References to Yodit as Queen of "Damot" are simply incorrect. The scholarly consensus is that the Zagwe Dynasty is not associated with Queen Yodit, who invaded and ruled over a century before its establishment. I turn here to Stuart Munro-Hay's Aksum: A Civilization of Late Antiquity: (p. 94)

The Arab historians add considerably to the history of Ethiopia at this point. Ibn Hawqal (Kramer and Wiet 1964: 16, 56) mentions that the country had been ruled for thirty years by a woman, who had killed the king, or hadani, and now ruled the hadani's territory as well as her own lands in the south. This was written in the 970s or 980s, and so the queen's advent was probably in the 950s. A confirmatory note occurs in a reference which states that the king of the Yemen sent a zebra, received as a gift from the female ruler of al-Habasha, to the ruler of Iraq in 969-70 (el-Chennafi 1976). It seems more than likely that this queen is identical with the queen enshrined in Ethiopian legend as the destructive Gudit, Yodit, or Esato, who invaded the kingdom and drove the legitimate kings into hiding, in spite of her legendary association with the establishment of the Zagwé kings. In fact, it seems likely that a period of well over a hundred years yet had to elapse before this new dynasty came to the throne, and that the Ge`ez chronicles have become hopelessly muddled at this stage.
Agriculture at Aksum has always been good because of its high water table but after the rise of Islam it was no longer a good location for controlling trade.
Again I will quote Aksum: A Civilization of Late Antiquity: (p. 217-18)

The long period of occupation of the city of Aksum evidently had a profound effect on the surrounding countryside, from which it drew the materials of subsistence. Some of the processes set in train can be inferred from the present state of the land, and consideration of the various factors involved. The local industries, including the manufacture of glass, faience, brick and pottery, and metal-working, all needed wood or charcoal for their furnaces. Charcoal was probably in further demand for cooking, and heating when necessary, and wood was used for furniture and other equipment as well as house-building. These activities slowly robbed the surrounding hills of their covering of trees —which, however, survived in a few enclaves on the Shire plateau to be noted by Butzer (1981), —and exposed their topsoil to degradation and erosion. The expansion of the population, probably adequately coped with at first by enlarging the food catchment areas by improved roads and transport facilities for goods into the city, and more intensive cultivation on the surrounding lands, eventually subjected these to overcropping. The pressure on the land would have shortened the rotation period of the crops, land which should have lain fallow for longer being pressed into use too soon. The subsequent lowering of the fertility level of the land again resulted in degradation and erosion, leaving an exhausted soil in the proximity of the city and the immediate countryside. Difficulties in maintaining the food-supplies may have been a significant factor in removing the capital elsewhere.
 

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